Home Away From Home: For foreign students in city, friends are family during Diwali

For fireworks, we have certain auspicious hours on the day of the festival but in India people indulge in fireworks and crackers for four-five days,” says Sadik.

Written by Garima Mishra | Pune | Published:October 29, 2016 5:03 am
diwali-cracker-759 International students take part in Diwali celebrations at Symbiosis.

WHILE the whole country ushers in the festival of lights with much enthusiasm, the mood is equally vibrant in Sri Lanka too, says Ifhri Sadik, an international student pursuing her studies in city. For many like Sadik, Pune is home away from home.

“In Sri Lanka, it is just a day-long festival, while here it lasts for four to five days. In India, there is ‘choti Diwali’ and ‘badi Diwali’. Out there, we do decorations mainly with diyas and flowers, unlike in India where we see lanterns and lightings in every house. For fireworks, we have certain auspicious hours on the day of the festival but in India people indulge in fireworks and crackers for four-five days,” says Sadik. However, despite all the differences, Sadik says, he enjoys celebrating the festival in India. “This is my second Diwali here and I am looking forward to it. I have already started getting invitations from various Indian friends and acquaintances. I relish eating peda and chakali,” says Sadik, who is pursuing a course from Sinhagad Institute, Erandwane campus.

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Habba Baldeh, another international student from Gambia in West Africa, who is studying BBA from Symbiosis Centre for Management Studies, says that her college had organised Diwali function in which she participated with her fellow international students. The event, she says, witnessed an overwhelming turnout of foreign students. While the Indian students shared with them the significance of the festival, the foreign students talked about the festivals celebrated by them in their respective countries. Talking about the celebrations, she said, “We made rangoli, lit diyas and watched fireworks. The atmosphere was so beautiful with everyone just enjoying the fireworks and the beauty of unity was truly showcased. They say the best way to keep a family together is by eating together, we closed the ceremony by feasting on a delicious Maharashtrian meal,” she added.

It’s been almost three years that Omegere John Patrick, a Uganda national, has been staying in Pune. In the past two years that he’s been here, he has celebrated Diwali with his Indian friends. He says that after trying various delicacies made during the festival, he has found himself craving for ‘round and yellow’ sweet (besan laddoo). “The best part about the festival is that everyone seems to be in a very good mood. The atmosphere everywhere is so positive and full of energy. The houses, buildings and shops can be seen decorated with lights. This year too, I will be going to my Indian friends’ home to join in the festivities,” says the student, who studying B.Com from BMCC.

Likewise, Ibrahim Junju, another Uganda national, who has been celebrating the festival from the last three years, cites that he enjoys bursting crackers with his friends on Diwali. It is something that is not allowed in his country without prior permission from the police authorities, he says. “My landlord and his family invite me to their house on Diwali. I love indulging on different types of sweets,” says Junju, a student of Symbiosis Institute of Health Sciences.